What is P.A.D.?
Peripheral arterial disease (P.A.D.) is a condition similar to coronary artery disease (C.A.D.) in which fatty deposits from too much cholesterol and other fats circulating in the blood vessels collect in the walls of arteries. These fatty deposits, called plaque, create blockages and restrict blood flow in the arteries leading to the arms, stomach, kidneys, legs, and feet. People with P.A.D. frequently have plaque buildup in the arteries of the heart and brain and because of this close association, most people with P.A.D. have a higher risk of death from heart attack and stroke.
Although P.A.D. can be present in the arteries that supply blood to the kidneys, stomach, and arms, it most commonly affects the legs. In its early stages a common symptom is cramping or fatigue in the legs and buttocks during activity.
The typical signs and symptoms of P.A.D. include:
- Claudication – fatigue, heaviness, tiredness or cramping in the leg muscles (calf, thigh, or buttocks) that occurs during exercise or activity such as walking or climbing stairs. Once the activity is stopped, the pain goes away.
- Pain in the legs and/or feet that disrupts sleep.
- Sores on the toes, feet, or legs that are slow to heal or may not heal at all.
- Temperature in one leg may be lower than the other.
- Decreased hair growth on the legs and poor nail growth on toes.
Although the symptoms listed above are common, many people with P.A.D. do not have the typical symptoms or any noticeable signs. However, even those individuals who do not have leg symptoms usually are unable to walk as far or as fast as they could before developing P.A.D.
Conditions and habits that increase your risk of developing P.A.D.:
- Age 50 or older.
- Have diabetes.
- Have high blood pressure.
- Have high cholesterol.
- Are African American.
- Smoke cigarettes or used to smoke.
- Have a personal history of heart attack, stroke, or vascular disease.
To learn more about P.A.D., click here or download the brochure. To learn more about our services and programs, call the Heart & Vascular Center at 734-655-2959.